Difference Between Discovery and Invention As Per Patent Act – An Overview

Discovery and Invention
| Updated: Jan 12, 2022 | Category: Patent

Invention and discovery are generally misunderstood because they sound like they are the same thing, but in reality, invention and discovery are completely different meanings. To know the difference between discovery and invention, it is vital to understand the meaning of both terms. Both invention and discovery mean to bring something new into notice or put light on a new thing, etc. But, these terms have different meanings at the ground level. Scroll down to check the difference between discovery and invention as per Patent Act.

What is the Meaning of Discovery and Invention?

Before we discuss the difference between Discovery and Invention, let’s understand the meaning of discovery and invention:

  • Discovery: The Act of exploring & searching for something that already exists in nature but was never recognised or identified is called discovery. Something that has been there in nature but never came before humans and has been recognised now; hence, it will be treated or considered as new.

For example, fossils, Scientists discover this, that have existed for long years but have never been recognised by humans before. Another example of discovery is the new species of animals and plants. Hence, the things which were there in nature for quite a long time but were not identified by us humans would come under the vision of discovery.

  • Invention: The creation of something unique or new or the process of creating that never existed before by using someone’s intelligence, skills, or knowledge is called an invention. The creation of something new with the help of someone’s ideas or experiments comes under the meaning of an invention.

For example, the creation of cell phones, computers, satellites, or TVs never existed before. These are created by scientists by using their experiments & ideas. But, remember that the parts which were used in creating such inventions already existed before, but the scientists used such parts in the creation, and that is called an invention.

Difference Between Discovery and Invention

You can check the difference between Discovery and Invention as per the Patent Act below:

  1. Occurrence: The occurrence of discoveries is natural; but, inventions are human-made occurrences of objects or things.
  2. Originality: Although both invention and discovery are considered new or unique since discovery is related to the findings of something that already existed in nature, discovery is not new or original. However, the invention or creation is related to the creation of new things by using prior existing things; therefore, an invention is new and original.
  3. Prior Existence: Discoveries are something which is already existed, but we didn’t have the knowledge regarding the same till it was recognised, whereas inventions are the things that never existed before, but only the parts or things which were used in creating such invention existed before.
  4. Involves: Inventions involves experiments, whereas discoveries involve exploration.
  5. Patentability: A discovery is not patentable or not liable for Patent Registration, whereas an invention is patentable.

Correlation Between Discovery and Invention

After discussing the difference between discovery and invention, let’s understand the correlation between them. Let’s take an example of the telescope; it was invented by a Dutchman, an eyeglass maker. It was because of the invention or creation of the telescope that Galileo Galilei was able to look far into the sky to discover the mountains of the moon. Galileo didn’t invent the mountains of the moon, but rather he discovered them with the help of invention, i.e., the telescope.

Similarly, inventions can lead to discoveries, and discoveries can also lead to inventions. For instance, Benjamin Franklin discovered the electrical effects of lightning, which further led him to invent the lightning rod, which is in use and helps in making buildings much safer during thunderstorms. Therefore, sometimes discovery and invention correlate with each other.

Discovery and Invention under the Patents Act

  • Discovery under Patents Act: The Patents Act states that discovery is not patentable and is excluded from Patent Registration or protection. Section 3 (c) & (d) of the Patents Act[1] clearly states that discovery of something that already exists is not patentable under the Patents Act, only inventions are patentable, and discoveries are not patentable.

The reason for discovery being non-patentable under the Act is that discovery of a new form, substance, etc., is not a new thing. It already exists in nature, and therefore, it cannot be treated as a new invention since it didn’t involve any inventive steps, skills, etc. Hence, such a discovery wouldn’t be treated as an invention and shall be non-patentable under the Trademark Act.

  • Invention under Patents Act: This Act defines an invention as a new or original product or a process that has an inventive or creative step and has some industrial applicability. For an invention to be eligible to obtain a Patent Registration, it has to fulfil conditions which are given below:
  • It must be new or unique;
  • It must have industrial applicability;
  • It must involve some inventive step;
  • It shall not come under the vision of Section 3 and 4 of the Act.

If all such conditions are fulfilled, then the proposed invention can be patented under the Act.


After discussing the difference between discovery and invention as per Patent Act, it is concluded that they both may sound the same, but they have two different meanings. Invention is different from discovery and vice-versa. However, the term or word discovery is not clearly defined in the Act, which creates a lot of confusion or mess in the minds of people. Since both, the terms sound so identical that they are normally misunderstood by each other.

Read our Article:Important Points to Know Before Looking for Patent Protection Overseas

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A legal writing enthusiast, a wanderer, and a zealous reader. After gaining a lot of knowledge about the diverse legal topics and developing research skills, Karan joined the league of legal content writers to deliver quality-rich blogs.


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